Three Types of Learning Styles
There are three major types of learners: visual, auditory, and tactile/kinesthetic. Each person has a learning style that is best for his intake and comprehension of new information.
Visual learners generally think in terms of pictures and learn best from visuals and handouts. Auditory learners learn best by listening. They usually like lecture and classroom discussions, and they might need to read written material aloud in order to fully understand it. Tactile/kinesthetic learners learn through touching, feeling, and experiencing the world around them. They do well with hands-on experiments, but they may have a hard time sitting through lectures and notes.
A visual learner is someone who needs to see a word written down to remember it. An auditory learner would remember a word better by hearing it or saying it out loud. A tactile/kinesthetic learner would probably choose to write down the word in order to learn it best.
Many people have a single learning style that works best for them. However, unless you are physically disabled, you can actually learn through all three learning styles.
Effective Use of Learning Styles
As a teacher, you will find that many of your students are best at tactile/kinesthetic learning. Because traditional classroom teaching techniques often target visual and auditory learning styles, these students get bored and have trouble concentrating.
It can be hard to incorporate tactile/kinesthetic learning all of the time. Don't try to force the issue, but whenever possible, look for lessons that lend themselves to this type of learning. For example, simulations and roleplaying allows students to get more hands-on and actually experience what they are learning.
Ineffective Use of Learning Styles
As you consider your students' dominant learning styles, don't go overboard and assume that they cannot learn in other ways. While other styles might be more difficult for them, your students should learn to adapt to all types of instruction. You can help them prepare for less sympathetic teachers by showing them techniques they can use to enhance their learning through each type of style.